It’s been eight days since a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket erupted in a fireball on a Cape Canaveral launch pad, taking the AMOS-6 satellite that Facebook was going to use to provide internet services with it. The company’s founder Elon Musk tweeted early this morning that the incident has proven the most “difficult and complex failure we have ever had.”
This is quite a statement, considering SpaceX’s first three test rockets blew up, almost bankrupting the company, as the Washington Post points out. And last year, a Falcon 9 bound for the International Space Station exploded with more than $100 million of cargo on board.
The cause of the “anomaly” on September 1—as SpaceX has taken to calling it—is still unknown. The incident is all the more perplexing because it happened during routine refueling. The engines had not been ignited when the rocket went up in flames, and there was no obvious heat source that could have sparked the explosion. (Musk is saying this is not technically an explosion, but if it looks, walks and quacks like a duck…)
SpaceX is asking anyone with video footage of the incident to email it to their reports email address, and Musk said that the investigators are particularly interested in a “quieter bang sound a few seconds before the fireball goes off.” Something elusive and unaccounted for in either the rocket or the launch pad set off this chain reaction, but where it started is still a mystery.